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The Bells of El Camino Real (locationless) Locationless (Reverse) Cache

This cache has been locked, but it is available for viewing.
Hidden : 02/11/2003
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   virtual (virtual)

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Geocache Description:

A geocache by Parsa.            Current bell list

This is a locationless cache. There is no box at any site.
You must include coordinates, the city, the address or intersection, and a photo with GPS.

The goal is to find the site of every bell guidepost marking the path of El Camino Real (the Royal Road or King's Highway) in California and Baja California. (For Spain and Pennsylvania, see rules below.)

El Camino Real linked California's Spanish missions and asistencias (sub-missions), and developed into the first coastal route in the State of California. The bell guideposts were first placed along the route in 1906 to preserve the route and to guide travelers. The primitive roads of this period were not officially signed, and highways were marked by automobile clubs and civic organizations.The bells were the first signs to guide travelers in many places.

There were 15 generations of bells placed along El Camino Real, and they came in three different styles. Most of the bells were placed along the route by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and by the California Federation of Women's Clubs. The standard I will use for accepting logs is the book California's El Camino Real and its Historic Bells by Max Kurillo and Erline Tuttle, available in libraries, bookstores, and from online sellers. This work has photographs and descriptions of each generation of bell. It also contains old Automobile Club of Southern California strip maps of El Camino Real, and a list of bell locations. The problem is that the description of the placement of the bells is often very general. An exact list does not seem to exist, so we geocachers will provide that service!

Most bells are made of cast iron and painted green. (Some replacement bells are concrete.) Most bear the words El Camino Real along the lower lip. The dates 1769 and 1906 are often on the waist of the bell. The first date is that of the founding of Mission San Diego and the second records the start of the bell project. Early bells feature bands and a 1906 copyright notice from Mrs. Forbes, the creator of the bells. Some bells are plain, while some bear the word Landmark. Recording such marks and lettering helps to identify and date the bells. The bells originally cost $20, and now cost $1000 to make.

El Camino Real stretched from Loreto in Baja California, Mexico to Sonoma, California. Several splits and side branches existed to connect missions and asistencias to the main road. Generally, El Camino Real follows U.S. Highway 101, but bells can even be found on branches in Escondido, Vista, San Bernardino and Mission Trails Park in San Diego.

You can find the official State of California definition of El Camino Real and the modern roads that follow it at the California Highways page.

More links:

The California Bell Company
The original El Camino Real Bell company, still in operation.

The California Missions

The Mission Bells of the 101 Freeway

El Camino Real on MissionTour.

Failure to follow the rules will result in the log being removed.

  1. Only roadside guidepost bells may be logged. Bells in mission church towers, bell-shaped lamp posts, or other bells may not be logged. Do not simply log the road.
  2. You must have a photo with your GPSr (or you and the GPSr) in the photo. Photos must be posted soon after the log is entered. Those waiting for film to be processed should wait to log the cache as a find. Post a temporary log to hold the bell site in this case.
  3. You should include the street address or intersection as well as the city's name.
  4. You must log the coordinates of the bell (or its post if the bell is missing). Post these using the coordinates feature on the log entry page.
  5. You may log more than one bell, but they must be in different counties.
  6. Only one person may log each bell.
  7. Bells in museums that preserve an El Camino Real bell removed from the roadside may be logged, but try to find its original post location if possible and log these coordinates as well.
  8. I'll allow only one log for Paradise Point Resort, but multiple photos at the site would be welcome.
  9. State of California designed concrete replacement bells are OK. These are one of the known types.
  10. Bells in Baja California, one in Petra, Majorca, Spain, and the one in Valley Forge, PA may be logged. The trails called El Camino Real in New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana are not the same road, and should not be logged.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Pbagnpg zr naq V znl or noyr gb uryc lbh svaq bar va lbhe nern.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)